Jim Mallinder refused to lay all the blame at the door of referee Martin Fox after Saints’ last-minute defeat at Gloucester.
The Northampton players were left shattered after Fox, a late replacement for Greg Garner, who suffered an injury the day before the game, awarded a controversial penalty to the Cherry and Whites after the clock went dead.
Saints had gone in front on 79 minutes as Jamie Elliott finished off a superb breakaway move and Stephen Myler kicked the conversion.
But from the kick-off Gloucester won a scrum from a Saints knock on and, three resets later, Lee Dickson was penalised for offside, giving Billy Twelvetrees a match-winning penalty.
Dickson had felt home No.8 Ben Morgan had kicked the ball back into and chased after it, only to be penalised by Fox.
Mallinder was not in agreement with the referee’s reading of the situation, but says Saints should not have put themselves in such a position.
“It’s a shame when games are decided by the referee in the last couple of minutes,” said Mallinder.
“We were disappointed when we had the change of referee at short notice, but sometimes that happens.
“As I said to the lads in the changing room, we’ve got to make sure we control what we can control. The refs are out of our hands. We’ve got to make sure of the parts of our game we can be more accurate with.
“We started well but they came back and the crowd had a big effect. You’ve got to make sure you’re very accurate in everything you do. You’ve got to try to put the referee out of the equation.”
Mallinder spoke to his players after the game about the incident which saw a penalty awarded against them, and said: “My reading of the scrum was that, particularly in the second one (reset) we had control of the ball.
“The lads have backed that up in the changing room. The third reset should have been our put in.
“I’ve taken my frustration out on what was by the side of the pitch. Thankfully it wasn’t Dorian West.
“We came close. We need to make sure every time we play a big team, we come close. We’ll win some and we’ll lose some.
“If we keep winning our home games that should see us in a good position come the end of the season.”